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Does Cleaning Relieve Stress? There's A Scientific Reason Cleaning Feels So Good

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As most parents have probably discovered, keeping your house in a clean-ish state seems futile as long as young children are living in it. Between the spills, the toys left everywhere, and the crumbs — oh, the crumbs — if feels like I'm constantly wiping messes and/or picking things up and putting them back where they belong. And if I do manage to clean one area, you can bet the kids are cluttering up another room. Cleaning can definitely feel like a lost cause. With that said, every once in a while I finally reach a breaking point. Enter: Rage cleaning. Suddenly, I feel so much better afterward. But does cleaning relieve stress? There's a scientific reason rage cleaning feels so good.

A study carried out by Ipsos on behalf of Mr. Clean shows that our bodies react to cleaning in the same way as they do watching race car driving — complete with an adrenaline rush and improved mood. For real. Here's a look at a few stats from the study:

  • One hundred percent of participants said that cleaning provides "peace of mind and a sense of control over one's environment."
  • 82 percent enjoyed admiring their work after a good clean
  • 81 percent felt a sense of accomplishment when they finished the task.
  • After cleaning, participants reported feeling more determined, inspired, and proud and less jittery, nervous, and hostile.
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Wondering what researchers did in order to make this conclusion? The Cleaning Rush Study actually looked at the Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) and Heart Rate (HR.) Both of these factors are automatic bodily responses, and for the study the GSR and HR of participants were measured as they completed a variety of cleaning activities. According to a news release from Ispos, the study found:

With changes in both being driven by factors such as emotional enthusiasm and excitement, Mr. Clean determined that the act of cleaning results in an adrenaline rush, much like the feeling people have when watching a simulated, high-intensity activity or sporting event.

Pretty cool, right?

It's worth noting that not only does the act of cleaning give people an adrenaline rush — but living in a clean home offers health benefits, too. According to Psychology Today, a study from Indiana University found that people with clean houses are healthier overall than those with messy homes. For the study, researchers track the physical health of 998 African Americans between ages 49 and 65. Participants who kept their homes clean were both healthier and more active than participants who didn’t. What's more is home cleanliness was more of a predictor for physical health than neighborhood walkability was.

Furthermore, a 2010 study found that women who described their Homes as "cluttered" or filled with "unfinished projects" were more likely to be depressed and tired than women who used words like "restful" and "restorative" to describe their homes.

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The moral of the story? Keep that house clean, and you'll reap the health and psychological benefits. Granted, the recent study about how cleaning relates to stress relief kind of seems like a no-brainer. Still, it's validating AF to have the research to back this up. I'll be sure to keep this in mind the next time I'm frazzled to my breaking point and rage cleaning to make myself feel better.